Been to Parkville lately? Located just 15 minutes from downtown, its historic district is quite charming and worth a visit. The drive along the banks of the Missouri River is lovely..in fact it would be a pleasant spot for a picnic in the fall or spring.
A friend and I traveled to Parkville in the summer, one of the few days in July that was actually cool enough for a stroll around town, no need to duck inside to the air conditioning. We were there to try Cafe Des Amis, an extremely quaint second floor restaurant. Had it not rained, wiping out any chance to sit outside and enjoy the moderate temperature, that would have been my preference. While the interior is well-appointed and encompasses several small rooms as well as an adorable bar in the foyer, the small outside deck sits among the trees, like a bird in a nest.
Cafe Des Amis, no surprise, is a French restaurant through and through. French accoutrements were displayed on the walls and tables, including in the bathroom, which I loved….enough to take a picture (unfortunately, I couldn’t quite capture its essence, but you get the idea.)
At dinner, the menu features typical but no less alluring French specialties…escargot (snails), mussels, frogs’ legs, coquilles St. Jacques (scallops), duck and bouillabaisse. But we were there for lunch, and admittedly didn’t go for the full Francophile experience. Some of those same options were available, along with crepes and quiche, but we both opted for salads, each of which were substantial, fresh and satisfying. Served with hot French bread (of course), it was an ideal summer meal. The Salade des Amis consisted of baby greens with a very tasty honey Dijon dressing, topped with red pepper, Portobellos, blue cheese and exceptional candied walnuts. The salad with a goat cheese crostini may not have had as much going on, but it was certainly enjoyable.
After lunch we stopped by Wines by Jennifer, almost worth the trip in itself. It’s in a small house off the main drag, and is part wine shop, part wine bar and part art gallery. There are three floors in all and each room specializes in a different country, so that Spanish wines are grouped together, Italian in another and so on. Art adorns the walls and tables throughout.
The wine selection, though small, is impressive. The owner, who travels extensively, knows her stuff. It’s on the expensive side, but I would guess she has a little monopoly going in this tiny hamlet.
Next time I’ll try to time my visit to coincide with the Wednesday afternoon Farmer’s Market (3-6 p.m.) just south of the railroad tracks at English Landing Park. I also plan to go to Piropos Grille, newly reopened and specializing in casual Latin American fare.